After a Fashion

Bettie Naylor's got 'em … but what are they? Also learn about a culture of men who chase the AIDS epidemic in a most personal fashion. Oh! And guess who turns 4???

Bettie Naylor (r) and friend
Bettie Naylor (r) and "friend"

BETTING ON BETTIE She is too modest. You can't even compliment her on her outfit without her sharing the credit with someone else. She hates it when I call her a goddess, but like most real goddesses, her work speaks for itself and she doesn't have to declare it on a bumper sticker. Bettie Naylor's contributions to our community, state, country, and world are astounding, and she's one of those gun-slinging Texan women who can hold her own in any city in the world. In her version of Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington, Naylor, born in Wichita Falls in 1927, led her life just as she was expected to for the first several decades: marrying, raising a family, and facing the challenges of a military wife. But with the blood of the frontier women in her veins, this mother of three faced adversity with a strength of spirit and a depth of devotion to her family that was a force to reckon with. Coupled with a growing realization that she really liked other women -- you know ... in the way they didn't talk about then -- she began a trek of self-discovery, educating herself and raising her consciousness about the myriad injustices in the world. By 1971 she was active in the women's movement as well as the Democratic Party. She was a founder of the National and Texas State women's political caucuses, eventually chairing the national convention in 1981. She attended the Democratic National Convention as a delegate in 1980, helping the platform committee to adopt a plank recognizing gay and lesbian delegates; she attended the first March on Washington and was the first lobbyist hired by the Texas Gay & Lesbian Task Force. "I don't get paid for it anymore. ... I just do it because I love it," she says. She was a founder of the Human Rights Campaign Fund (now the Human Rights Campaign), and in 2000 she addressed the enormous crowds at the March on Washington. Continuing to be employed at all levels of campaigning, from City Council to president, she is celebrated for her unstinting work, traversing the world of politics and celebrity. With friends in high places, she never forgets that she works for the good of all people. From high up in the residential tower she lives in, the grounds of the Capitol are spread out far below her windows, and the Capitol building dominates the view. "When I first moved in, it used to look huge, but after 21 years, it's gotten smaller." What has not gotten smaller is the scope of Naylor's ambition. "I will not be done until there is equality for gays, lesbians, and women ... equality for everybody. ... But I never work at this alone." Her accomplishments are vast, and she can afford to be modest, even when I do compliment her outfit. I once pronounced Bettie Naylor the best-dressed lesbian I knew -- I intended it as praise of the highest order, and she took it as such. But it diminishes her to rate her in any kind of fashion scheme. The only thing we can say about her fashionwise is this: Bettie Naylor can't wear miniskirts because her balls will show.

ANNIVERSARY GREETINGS This issue marks "After a Fashion"'s fourth anniversary and marks another year of dedication to the art of bringing frivolous superficialities into deep focus. It is our never-ending aspiration to combine wry social commentary with critical information about the arts, social, and style scenes and present it in an educational and highly entertaining manner. It is a diary, a bulletin board, a calendar, and a letter, and our scope is vast. But why dwell on it? We'll save that for next year, for our fifth anniversary. I think we should have a little parade ... just a few floats and maybe the Kilgore Rangerettes or something. Be thinking about it, and we'll chat about it again in a few months.

TONIGHT! TONIGHT! One of our favorite Web masters (and frequent photo contributor to "After a Fashion"), Bryan Ockert of Chaosinaustin.com is hosting writer/director Daniel Bort in his home. Bort's film "Bugchaser" is having its world premiere at the 16th annual Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. "Bugchaser" is a short film that explores the veracities of the urban myth of men who seek to share their bodily fluids with the intention of becoming infected with the HIV virus. "The matter-of-fact declarations of a string of articulate, apparently nonsensical people ... affected me tremendously. I had to find out the reasons why such individuals will seek suicide in this almost symbolic way," said Bort. After two years of investigations, the filmmaker decided to approach the theme as a fiction work and shot it in real sex clubs in New York City. Shot in 16 mm, the film will get its world premiere tonight, Thursday, Aug. 28, 7:30pm, at the Metropolitan theatre (I-35 and Stassney) and accompanies "The Gift," a documentary on the same subject.

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